Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Edition: Balzer + Bray Hardback
Release Date: February 28th 2017
Pages: 464
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Pre-ordered from The Book Depository
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is without a doubt the greatest, if not most powerful, book you will read this year. It is necessary, it is groundbreaking and it is topical. It is also one of the most overwhelmingly sentimental reads I have ever had the pleasure of reading and I truly feel so grateful to Angie Thomas for what she has brought into the world.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give (T.H.U.G.) details the complex life of Starr, a black teenager who witnesses her unarmed friend Khalil, get shot by a police officer, changing her life as she knows it. Starr lives in two separate worlds, one with her family in Garden Heights (a predominately black neighbourhood permeated with gang wars) and the other at a private "bougie" school in Williamson Prep where Starr is one of the few black students. 

To me, The Hate U Give made every other book feel insignificant. It tackled issues such as police brutality, gang wars, white privilege, domestic violence, drug use and interracial relationships. The themes addressed were ones of great importance which are too often silenced in Young Adult fiction.  The politics of the book itself cannot help but provoke serious thought from its readers and it's potential to challenge mindsets is undeniable. Angie Thomas left no storyline undeveloped and over the course of 464 pages, it lays the perfect grounds for a movie. I could not stop turning pages, action and heartache were everywhere, activating every feeling within me. 

"Williamson Starr doesn’t use slang—if a rapper would say it, she doesn’t say it, even if her white friends do. Slang makes them cool. Slang makes her “hood.”"

One of the greatest things about T.H.U.G is that it basically silences the argument that diverse fiction is exclusive and unnecessary. It's compelling and influential narrative is diverse fiction and #ownvoices personified (it is so accurate and so authentic) and the message it leaves is clear. Angie Thomas brings forth some much-needed truths, dismantling a system which undervalues the lives of people of colour and reduces them to a hashtag, another statistic without justice. Her debut is revolutionary. 

As a biracial teenager (African American and Australian), this book did SO much for me. Having grown up with an African American culture that has greatly shaped my identity, I have never truly felt represented within YA fiction - an issue all too familiar to minority groups without a voice in literature. Sure, being white passing and Australian (I recognize the level of white privilege I have and the fact that it has shielded me from the systematic racism experienced by other Women of Colour) I have been able to relate to protagonists within YA fiction based on a few various characteristics or interests. However, it wasn't until reading T.H.U.G that I realised not only how it good it felt to see a huge portion of your identity reflected in a book but how badly I'd been craving it. 

"Funny. Slave masters thought they were making a difference in black people's lives too. Saving them from their "wild African ways". Same shit, different century. I wish people like them would stop thinking that people like me need saving."

My heart was overwhelmed with how much I found myself identifying with and rooting for Starr - despite her being way braver than me and admittedly living a reality quite different to mine. I resonated with Starr's need to accommodate and to a degree, assimilate. Carefully choosing what parts of herself she revealed to avoid being stereotyped and tokenized. I could relate to the feelings of irritation at microaggressions she dealt with, especially the way she bit her tongue when her friends casually made insensitive and sometimes downright racist comments. 
“It's dope to be black until it's hard to be black.” 
I related to her unconventional family, who were loving and protective fighters loyal to one another and dismissive of that whole half-sibling bull. They were a family. Tight-knit and ride or die. Ultimately, incredibly endearing and captivating. They reminded me so much of my own tribe and the way we were raised to be. Literally, I lose count of how many times I said to myself, "Oh my lord, my Mother says that to me all the god damn time" or "Oh my lord I feel that way all the god damn time". That's the power of diverse fiction right there. It's honestly indescribable. They were characters who talked, looked and behaved like me and my family. I want to protect, befriend and dance with them all. Argh, they are all so precious to me! This book is so precious to me! I can't imagine how moved other black readers felt when reading this. 
“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right. Maybe.” 
There were so many dynamic subplots and secondary characters which really enriched the plot of the story. The unexpected involvement of Devante, the exploration of Starr's relationship with her white boyfriend Chris and the role of Starr's police officer uncle Carlos, were all subplots that really interested me. But then again, every facet of this book interested me. I never knew it was possible to fit so much into 464 pages - surprisingly, not long enough.

Yesterday T.H.U.G. debuted at number one on the New York Times Bestseller list, and no one has deserved that more than Angie Thomas. It is an amazing milestone for Women of Colour and for diverse fiction, a must within our community. Congratulations! Angie, I am making it my personal mission to ensure everyone reads your book - but with tissues in hand because it is so bloody emotive and raw! T.H.U.G. is dare I say...flawless. It's going to be the next big thing, I just know it. 

Thank you for providing me with more than just a new favourite book. Thank you for giving me a slice of representation. Thank you for giving People of Colour representation. Thank you for drawing attention to and educating others on the many black lives who did not receive the justice they deserved. To end, in the wise words of Tupac I quote, "The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody." 
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6 comments:

  1. Love, love, LOVE this review! This book sounds so emotional and incredible and like a book everyone needs to read. I'm making a point of reading more diverse books so I'll definitely be reading this! So glad you loved it! <3

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  2. YAAS I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH TOO!! I think it tells such an important story and I'm beyond happy for the author that she's getting the recognition she deserves. <3 And like Star's family was so precious. When she said her parents were her OTP I just ajfdksalfd so beautiful. I love her family and like how it was actually a good family, which honestly doesn't happen that much in YA.๐Ÿ˜‚ SO YES. So much to love about this book and I'm so glad it was really special to you!!

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  3. Absolutely amazing review Sunny, it's breathtaking. I loved THUG, it was a conversation the world (and in particular the US) needs to have. Even in Australia, it feels as though we're so far removed from US violence so to be able to see that experience even through a fictional point of view will help people to understand why we need to lend our support. Desperately.

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  4. Incredible review, Sunny. I totally agree with everything you've said, though your perspective as a biracial person who shares the marginalization of the main character is more valuable. When I turned the last page of THUG, I went around saying that it's going to change the game, in the best way possible. It's such a profound, important read - I felt so deeply connected to the characters, and it discusses so many important themes. THUG really is, without a doubt, the most important book of the year. :)

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  5. I've heard so many good things about this book but my god, you have sold me. I was unsure if I was going to read this because contemporary is not a genre I read a lot of, but this is such an important book to our world and culture I need to read it. As a white Australian, I've never had the struggles you guys have had. If this book is an accurate representation of your situation and feelings, I want to read it so I can better empathise and understand all the stuff that's going on in the world.

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  6. This is such a beautiful review. I am honestly so glad for the existence of this book so that readers who have never seen (or only seen very little) of themselves in the books they read finally - finally - have that chance. It makes me so happy that you were able to identify with this story so much, Sunny!

    I am so excited to read this book. I am so proud of the author and the words she wrote. I hope that the success and powerful effect/s of this book give the publishing industry the message that diverse books are needed and important. And can debut at #1.

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